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Are Gambling and Sexual Behaviors Connected?

Aug 20, 2014

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A new study seeks to link gambling amongst teenagers and adolescents with their sexual behavior in a shockingly blatant attempt to taint black youth in the US.

As a heterosexual male it is very easy to scoff at a question of this nature, perhaps making comments in response about the religious leanings of the pope, or the tendency for hairy quadrupeds to defecate in heavily forested areas. This is, of course, a reflection of the fact that many of all our early sexual encounters felt very much like winning at blackjack especially in light of the number of instances in which we didn’t “win”.

Winning and losing is a concept that all children are taught quite early on in life and the equating of that with success and failure, in any sphere, not just the sexual one, is a reflection of the binary states of achievement we humans tend to focus upon. Young people will desire sex and will risk or gamble in attempt to gain it, with boys in particular very likely to do something wholly dangerous or stupid in order to impress the girl they’re attracted to.

Addictive Behaviors Study Links Sex And Gambling

• Teenagers who gamble more likely to have “conduct disorders”

• 90% of teenage gamblers tried to have sex before they were 18

• Does study ignore other factors just to play well with audience?

But is this really a connection between gambling and sexual behaviors per se or is that just the stupidity of youth meeting the fickle percentage chances of reality? Certainly I doubt we’ll ever see young couples sexual behavior the subject of online sex gambling or worse in the mass media (Will they? Won’t they? Place your bets now!) although I’m sure reality TV producers are working on it even as I type this. But there are similarities between the two.

It doesn’t take a behavioral scientist to realize that the pursuit of, and participation in, sex shares one major trait with the process of gambling and the inherent winning or losing duality contained therein. Whether you’re slipping between the sheets with a partner of your choice or taking a seat at your favorite blackjack tournament in a casino, you’re pretty much there for the same reasons, the pursuit of thrills and pleasure, and in both cases sometime you win and sometimes you lose.

Studies Find Agenda Backing Results

Studies carried out by scientists who aren’t quite qualified enough to find cures for cancer, HIV and One Direction, seem to indicate that there is a direct link between levels of gambling (in a traditional sense) and sexual behavior, although many of these are of shaky basis and somewhat suspect value. It is very hard to take a study seriously when it believes one of its shocking findings is that nearly 90% of adolescent gamblers initiated sex before age 18.

Obviously the cultural idiosyncrasies of the US means that a recent study, conducted by researchers from Columbia University and the prestigious John Hopkins medical center, is presented as being an horrific revelation about young people in inner cities – in this case particularly black youths in Baltimore, with alarmist statistics attempting to criminalize pretty normal behavior. 90% tried to have sex before they were 18? Gosh. Don’t all teenagers try to have sex before they’re 18? Makes you feel rather sorry for the 10% who were too scared to even try, doesn’t it?

Much as the study, published just ahead of Baltimore opening its first casino, attempts to paint a direct correlation between gambling at a young age and having sex at a young age, all the numbers actually reflect is that young risk takers don’t necessarily only risk in one specific area of their lives but in all of them. The study’s authors try to paint a picture whereby a child one day wagers with a friend over the ability of one or other to achieve something (in the “I bet you a fiver you can’t…” sort of way common around the world) and the next is impregnating or being impregnated, but it doesn’t ring true.

The fact is if unwanted teenage pregnancies were the result of young people being exposed to gambling at an early age, there would be a disproportionate number of unmarried teenage mothers in Nevada, Monaco, or Macau… and there isn’t. The study doesn’t just flatly state that 13 year olds who gamble are more likely to become pregnant (or cause someone to become so) than those who do not but says that they’re more likely to have “conduct disorders” too.

Teenagers and Scientists Both Suffer From A Disorder

“Conduct disorders” are what scientists call misbehavior by teenagers because studying “naughty children” wouldn’t pass the budgetary grants meeting of their institution, and giving it an impressive sounding name makes it appear far more serious than it actually is. They list amongst examples of this lying, stealing, vandalism, substance abuse, verbal and physical aggression, repeated violation of social norms and the catch-all crime of impulsivity (which is apparently not thinking about consequences ahead of time).

Now whilst those behaviors are all very lamentable I’m not sure they’re casino gambling news nor amount to a disorder, and if they do its one that just about every child in the known world suffers from for at least a little while during their teenage years. In fact I would personally be deeply suspicious of any child that has not indulged in at least one or two of those activities prior to their 16th birthday and wonder if they didn’t need a little chat about their issues with a mental health professional.

Of course this study was conducted mostly amongst African American teenagers specifically so it can’t reflect on the rest of America’s predominantly white youth. The results are then presented in such a way as to make African American (black) teenagers seem more dangerous, more likely to participate in risky behavior, than their white counterparts. This may well be true from a statistical standpoint (although that is entirely arguable) but to link this to gambling seems wholly unjustified.

Poverty, social deprivation, economic outlook, dominant peer group attitudes and the influence of media, popular culture and the internet’s mass of online gaming companies are all squarely ignored in favor of gambling as being the common denominator in both sexual activity at a young age, and these supposed conduct disorders, amongst inner city kids of an ethnic background. In my view this invalidates the study making it an agenda led piece of propaganda rather than an example of true scientific research.

These studies do nothing to prove a link between gambling and sexual behaviors because they’re flawed and racist, ignore most other contributory factors, and are designed to play well amongst the a white population who are slowly being conditioned to think of black people as a dangerous threat. The truth is that both sex and gambling ARE thrilling and pleasurable, and as such teenagers will want to participate in both, be they black, white, green or orange with blue stripes, and failing to understand that makes you a loser.

Read more about sex and gambling.


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